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  • J. J. Hanna

Argus Panoptes: the Hundred Eyed Giant

Let’s get one thing straight: mythology is weird. As I embark on the journey of talking about mythology, I just wanted to make that clear. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Today, I’m going to talk a little about Argus Panoptes. In the Greek myths, he was a giant who served Hera, the queen of the gods, and wife to Zeus, who was best known for his ability to throw lightning. It should also be mentioned here that Zeus was notorious for being unfaithful to Hera, and many of the Greek myths start out the same way: Zeus had an intense crush on someone else, and he wanted to act on it.

But where does Argus (sometimes spelled Argos) fit into all of this?

At the time of Argus’s myth, Zeus’s current flame was for a nymph named Io. In order to keep the affair a secret from his wife, Zeus covered the earth in dark clouds. The only problem with this was that it made Hera suspicious, so she came down to earth and cleared the clouds away only to find that Zeus had disguised Io as a white heifer. Not deceived, Hera said that she loved the heifer so much she wanted it as a gift. What husband would deny his wife the gift she wants, especially when he’s trying to convince her nothing is amiss?

Hera had Io sent away out of Zeus’s reach, and ordered Argus to guard her. Because of his many eyes, he could have some eyes sleeping at a time while the other eyes kept watch. This was the beginning of Argus’s troubles. Zeus, now desperate to get his lover back, sent Hermes (the god of anything regarding traveling or wit) to get her.

Disguised as a shepherd, Hermes was able to tell Argus enough bedtime stories and sing enough lullabies that the giant fell asleep completely, after which Hermes killed him with a rock. Hera later took Argus’s eyes and placed them on her favorite bird, the peacock. Because he died guarding Io, Argus’s ghost (along with the mother of all gadflies) pursued Io around the world as she tried to escape and find her way back to Zeus. She was later transformed back into a human near the Nile River.

This myth is referenced in many of the epic poems and greek tragedies.

What myth should I do next? Let me know in the comments or on social media @AuthorJJHanna.


J. J. Hanna is attending Taylor University for a degree in Professional Writing. She has published multiple devotions and book reviews and draws comics about a stork named Lenard.


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